- Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
- Area(s) of Law: Employment Law
- Date Filed: 10-05-2022
- Case #: A173018
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Kamins, J. for the Court; James, P.J.; & Lagesen, C.J.
- Full Text Opinion
Defendants appealed a judgment in favor of Plaintiff in which damages were awarded for a violation of the Oregon Safe Employment Act (OSEA). Defendants assigned error to the trial court’s “cat’s paw” jury instruction. On appeal, Defendant argued that the jury instruction incorrectly stated the law because it only applies when a biased employee is a supervisor, not a peer. In response, Plaintiff argued that her employment was terminated due to having reported safety issues committed by her colleagues. In an unlawful discrimination or retaliation suit, a plaintiff must show that a “protected trait or their involvement in a protected activity was a substantial factor” in the employer’s decision to take adverse action. Ossanna v. Nike Inc., 290 Or App 16, 28 (2018). “Cat’s paw” allows satisfaction of the causation element where the decision-maker was influenced by another person who instead was personally biased against the employee. Id. at 210. The Court determined that a “cat’s paw” instruction applies when a biased employee holds influence over an adverse employment decision, regardless of whether that employee is a supervisor or a peer. Despite this, the Court held that the instruction’s language that the biased employee “influenced, affected or was involved in” the employment decision was overly broad. Reversed and remanded.